In Advance of the Vote on the 2016-2017 Seattle Schools Budgets

I sent this e-mail to the School Board this morning:

Dear Directors,

You are coming up on a vote for the 2016-2017 budgets tonight. I just want to point out a couple of things.

On page 70, there's a pie chart showing Budgeting Expenditures by Activity Group and it says "5.9% Central Administration." So that looks very good as the average is around 5.5%-6.5% in our region. But there's another section of that pie, "Student Support Services" at 16.1%. What does that include?

Page 80:

Support Services include the costs of processing payroll, paying bills, administering programs, managing grants and hiring staff. It also includes the costs of our technology team, our delivery drivers, warehouse staff and insurance.

Page 78:

In 2016-2017, 81% of the budget, or $635.5 million is considered direct services.
So that leaves about 19% of services that are not direct ones. In other words, about 19% of the budget is central office directed work. Big difference between 5.9% and 19%.

So when you are told Central Administration is less than 6% of the budget, clearly, it's not.

What brings me to this finding out that Wyeth Jessee has a new position, Chief of Student Supports. What that is seems to be unclear. Maybe you could ask. I have seen no public announcement of this and why SPS so desperately needs it.

Then there's this other new position:
"Chief of Curriculum & Instructional Support" - with a salary range of $148,718.00 - $205,465.00 Annually

(Is this a renamed post for what Shauna Heath did?)

Then there is a another new position coming for a director for the African-American male student initiative (and, once again, I strongly protest a separate office for this work. It belongs in Race&Equity.)

How many senior staff can there be in one district? Apparently, for Seattle Schools, the number never ends.


Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

P.S. I don't see where the $11M underspend is in the budget.


Every category in the budget has increased as a % of the entire budget apart from one. That one is .... teaching!. Teaching is down from 63% to 60.8% of the budget. Does Dr. Nyland not understand what the point of SPS is? Has Dr. Nyland ever had to pop into Staples on the way to work and spend his own money on supplies so he can do his job?.
alex said…
Thank you, Melissa.
Anonymous said…

-NW Parent
Eric B said…
Was there discussion at the meeting of what happens to the $11M?
n said…
My accountant tells me I can claim some expenses on my tax returns each year. I am a teacher who spends a lot. He says the IRS knows teachers do spend a lot of their own money and that I"m one of the higher-level spenders but not far enough out of range to bring notice to my account. Even so, he tells me to break it up in different accounts: supplies; equipment; library resources; technology, etc.

It is likely that the district does the same thing. Distributing into different accounts to avoid the increase in administrative staff seems like a no-brainer for them. The reduction in teaching staff should be a wake-up call in a district the size and diverse as ours. And please don't tell me our district is not that big. It is big enough.

I've reached a mass of cynicism and skepticism.
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